Vaccinating elementary-aged children could be major step in fight against COVID

Coronavirus

CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Local pediatricians are encouraged after Pfizer released data Monday showing its vaccine is safe and effective in children 5 to 11, a large age group that has not yet become eligible in getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Please, think about, very seriously about getting your child inoculated,” Dr. James Saperstone, a pediatrician at Community Care Physicians in Guilderland, said.

Elementary-aged children could soon be rolling up their sleeves. Pfizer announced a smaller dose of its vaccine, a third of what’s in a normal shot, induces a strong immune response in kids 5 to 11, with limited side effects.

Saperstone is encouraging parents to speak with their children’s doctor, “The conversation will be now it’s time to really get this COVID epidemic under control and protect children and get them back to school. We could use school as a good leverage point too.”

With children back in the classroom, local school districts are also hopeful that, once approved, the vaccine could add another layer of protection.

“The biggest positive thing that will happen as elementary age students, the 5 to 11 year olds you mentioned, as they’re vaccinated is that we will drastically reduced quarantines and keep kids in school,” Mohonasen Superintendent Shannon Shine explained.

Pfizer says it will seek emergency authorization to begin vaccinating the age group soon. Pediatricians say it could be another major step in the continued fight against the pandemic.

“I think with vaccine reluctance, herd immunity is still going to be an evasive thing for awhile, but it will make a big difference in the numbers and the numbers of hospitalizations,” Saperstone says.

Especially as children continue becoming infected with the contagious delta variant.

“When we’re looking at rates of infection and hospitalization nationwide, there has been quite a significant increase in children in this age group, really since the summertime from what I’ve read,” Dr. Arsenio Pascual, a pediatrician at Community Care in Clifton Park, explained.

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